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Presidential Campaigning

October 10, 1988

While claiming to occupy the political "mainstream" George Bush actually attacks and even insults mainstream Americans when he scathingly takes his adversary to task for supporting a Soviet-American nuclear freeze.

Michael Dukakis is almost equally irresponsible for failing to counterattack on this issue, for failing to point out that:

* In California, considered a key state in the November election, close to 4 million voters supported the 1982 Bilateral Nuclear Freeze Initiative, a political catalyst that did much to alert and activate Americans everywhere to participate in what became the largest de facto national referendum on a political issue in the history of our country. Thus Bush, by attacking Dukakis, is painting millions of other citizens as having been soft-headed and perhaps even soft on communism.

* Among those who saw a Soviet-American freeze as enhancing rather than reducing our national security are the Catholic Bishops, leaders of many other religious denominations, retired high-ranking military officers and prominent members of both political parties, including U.S. senators and representatives. To all of these and more, a never-ending thermonuclear competition appeared to be a race to oblivion for both sides, and a bilateral freeze became a metaphor that said: Enough is enough! By slinging verbal slime at one pro-freeze American, Bush demeans and insults all the others whose common sense called for a cry for sanity from citizens who believe that if the people will lead, in time the leaders will follow.

* When I was given the opportunity, as chairman of the California campaign, to deliver the official document to President Reagan, he understood that the message came to him from a majority of those who had voted. To what extent he was subsequently influenced by the voice of the people from his own state, I cannot know. I do know, however, that those people deserve respect, not snide pejorative cheap shots, for having acted in the best traditions of a democratic society.

HAROLD WILLENS

Los Angeles

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